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Published: 2007/01/21
by Brad Farberman

Food in the Belly – Xavier Rudd

Anti- 86831-2

Listening to Xavier Rudd does not bring to mind the “concert experience.”

Instead, the Australian troubadour’s stripped-down approach conjures up images of some dude you know entertaining friends around the campfire, or stealing the spotlight in a crowded dorm room. Such is the intimate quality of Rudd’s music.

A quality that stems from said stripped-down approach. Rudd’s musical world, for the most part, is limited to acoustic guitar, a few didgeridoos, his foot stomping time and vocals that rarely reach above a whisper. There’s no pyro, fog machine, or choreographed dance moves. Just a talented hippie and the truth.

But what he lacks in “oomph” he more than makes up for with a subtle magic on Food In The Belly, his new record for Anti- (home to Michael Franti, Tom Waits and the forthcoming Antibalas disc). It is a quiet, naked frolic through a conscious brand of Americana. From Australia.

“Messages,” featuring harmony vocals from Beth Preston, recalls Graceland-era Paul Simon, but with a decidedly Green Party bent to its lyrics. “If you love this coast, then keep it clean as it rolls, cause the way that it shines may just dwindle with time,” sings Rudd. If you were looking for songs about beer and girls, you might want to look elsewhere.

Other highlights include a brief Hammond B3 romp (“The Mother”), and the aboriginal techno of “Mana.” Check this disc out if you’re down with the down under.

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